Last Tuesday night I got together with a friend I met in the bloggy world for a couple of Guinnesses. He's a really cool local guy who used to blog, but gave it up a while back. (It's a lot of work, folks.) I won't say his name because he's a private kind of person, which kind of leads me to the topic of this post.
Private Guy mentioned how different we are and remarked that I've put my life totally "out there" for all to see. He wasn't making a value judgment or anything, just an observation, but he got me thinking about how I got to be like this.
It's weird because as a young child, I was very shy and quiet. I never wanted to call attention to myself and was positively a wreck anytime I had to get in front of the class to speak. I loved school, though, and in fourth grade I was placed on an academically talented track. I was a perfect little student.
In junior high I became best friends with a funny, ballsy Jewish girl who'd do crazy things I would only dream of. We were like Blossom from the TV show and her little friend. We skipped classes all the time and whenever we got in trouble, the teachers, hall monitors, or administrators would direct their admonishments to Joan, figuring she was the brains behind the misdeeds and I just went along for the ride. Which was pretty much the truth.
By high school, I'd become much more outgoing. I was a cheerleader (captain) and was voted vice president of my senior class. I wasn't clique-y or anything and years later, in my forties, I ran into a guy from Albany High who told me I was always the nicest girl. That meant a lot. I still wasn't particularly "out there," though, and I've had several people from the old days tell me how surprised they are that I'm doing comedy.
"No offense," one friend said, "but I never thought you were that funny."
No offense taken; I completely understood. No one could have ever predicted I'd end up writing a memoir about rebuilding my life in Las Vegas (of all friggin' places) after my second divorce (!) and doing stand-up comedy. Talk about being out there.
I think the turning point in my transformation occurred in the 1990s when I started doing corporate training. During those years I taught job search skills to displaced workers through a major corporate outplacement firm. Talk about a tough audience, but I was able to win them over with my humor and technical writing skills; I was fun to be with and they knew they'd get a kick-ass resume at the end of the two- or three-day workshop. I also taught business and technical writing through a local community college's Business and Industry Center. Then in 2000, I trained newly hired bank personnel in sales and customer service skills. I loved doing classroom training, and that's where I honed my presentation skills. Had it not been for my training experience, I don't think I'd ever have had the nerve to try stand-up at all.
So it's been gradual transformation and now, as my friend pointed out over our Guinnesses, my life is truly--and literally--an open book. I figure, why the hell not? If someone can learn from my mistakes, be inspired by my experiences, or laugh at my general assholey-ness, that's just fantastic.
I think I told you before that I truly believe my purpose in life is to "help other access, acknowledge, and accept their God-given talents and encourage them to share them with the rest of the world." That came to me several years ago while I was meditating and it is one of my fundamental truths.
So maybe the best way to fulfill that purpose is by sharing my own life. Sometimes I still can't believe that anyone's actually interested, but as I write this 576th blog post and celebrate my 3-year blog anniversary, I sure am grateful that you seem to be.
Thank you to all!